By Oladeji Benjami Olalekan
- Mr Olumide should be commended for his forthright efforts in instituting these cases. He deserves honour.
- I have problems with the suits and some Terms of Settlements which cumulated into Consent Judgments. I will address them in that order of identification.
- First, the cases should have been determined on merits not out-of-court settlement. The cases were instituted on the basis of public-interest. Thus, legal expositions through judicial reasoning would have further adorned our jurisprudence with some rich leaps. Though the accounting big4 firms were singled out in these legal actions, there are more infiltrations into the legal profession services through other sources.
- I have read Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN’s brief intervention. With respect, parts of her submissions are not only weightless, they are also riddled with inconsistency.
- In one breath, the learned Silk submitted that the big4 firms do not hold themselves out as providing services preserved only for Legal Practitioners. In another breath she submitted that “we should not chastise the Big 4 for seeking to take over the space that the legal profession has vacated.”
What do we believe in this?
Are legal services preserved by law or by decisions of Practitioners? If they are products of law exclusively reserved for lawyers, supposed assumption that the lawyers have “vacated” such rights (whatever that means) is a feeble attempt to box the air with fury. Rights and liabilities preserved by statute (s) remain what they are regardless what the beneficiaries do or don’t do with such rights or liabilities.
- Assuming without conceding that there is no overlapping concerns which informed the suits as Mrs Adekoya SAN had laboured hard to make us believe, why would the big 4 submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court, and Preliminary Objection on the ground of wanting cause of action was not raised? I think the Learned Silk rushed to the press with sympathy for the big4.
- For the dusts raised in the Learned Silk’s intervention, and purposes of enrichment of our jurisprudence, the matters should have been decided on merits.
- Second, Terms of Settlement as contained in paragraphs 4 and 5 are disturbing.
Part of Paragraph 4 sets out that Terms of Settlement doesn’t constitute admission of wrong on the part of the 1st Defendant.
- If there was no wrong, what is the cause of action on which the suits were founded?
- If there was no wrong, were suits instituted to obtain Consent Judgment as advisory opinion of which the courts are not constitutionally and statutorily empowered to render?
- If the suits were instituted to obtain advisory opinion, did the accounting big 4 firms just yield themselves as guinea pigs and whose interests did that serve?
That Paragraph 5 part of the Terms of Settlement diminishes and undermines the relevance of those suits and Consent Judgment obtained pursuant to the executed Terms of Settlement.
- Paragraph 5 of the Terms of Settlement seeks to privatize the public document! It is not only logically incongruous, it is unknown to law. Terms of Settlement upon execution by the parties and being filed at a court registry becomes public document. The Terms of Settlement upon being pronounced upon as Consent Judgment becomes public document. Paragraph 5 of the Terms of Settlement set out that the Terms of Settlement must not be published on social media or made available to the public. Parties are equally not allowed by the Paragraph to grant interviews from the press.
Well, I have not read this publication elsewhere other than social media except DNL Legal WhatsApp group has a different status other than being a social media.
I am wondering utility that the Paragraph 5 seeks to achieve. Anyway, it is a stillborn and there is no life in it.
So much developments have caught up with and overtaken legal practices in Nigeria. Unless the NBA and other stakeholders shake off the slumber, province of legal practices would become mining field of other professions and crooks beyond KPMG, PWC, Deloite and Ernst & Young.